Pakistan the value bet to beat England in first Dubai Test
With the first Test between Pakistan and England being particularly close to call, the value may lie with the hosts gaining the early initiative in the series.
Pakistan are unbeaten in their last six series’ since suffering a 3-1 defeat in England in 2010 and are far more accustomed to the pitches in Dubai.
England may be the world number-one ranked Test team, but are largely unfamiliar with the conditions, having played just two warm-up matches in the UAE.
Pakistan are 5/2 in the cricket odds to win the first Test and have Azhar Ali and Younis Khan in their ranks, who have both already scored centuries at the Dubai International Cricket Stadium.
Meanwhile, Saeed Ajmal is considered one of the best spinners in the world at present and has already helped himself to 11 wickets at the ground in just two Tests.
England are marginal favourites at 6/4 and will be buoyed especially by their promising results with the ball in their warm-up encounters, conceding no more than 281 runs in a single innings.
The big decision for England is whether to pick two spinners, with Monty Panesar taking eight wickets in the success over a Pakistan Cricket Board XI.
Pakistan are almost certain to go with two spinners and although England can call upon Kevin Pietersen for a few overs, Panesar will make a bigger difference with the ball, particularly as being left-handed he will offer something different.
Stuart Broad is also expected to be fit to play, despite getting a bruised foot in the nets from the bowling of James Anderson.
Panesar may look overpriced at 3/1 to be England’s top wicket taker in the first of the three Tests, while Ali could be worth a punt at 5/1 to be Pakistan’s top run scorer, having already racked up 248 runs on the ground.